Book Review: Breakfast with Neruda by Laura Moe


Pages: 258

Publisher: Simon Pulse/ Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Released April 1, 2016

Genres: YA-Teens- Social & Family Issues – Homelessness & Poverty – Blended Family – Stepfamilies



Michael Flynn is just trying to get through his community service after he made the dumb decision to try to blow up his friend’s car with fireworks–the same friend who stole Michael’s girl. Being expelled and losing his best buddy and his girlfriend are the least of his problems: Michael has learned to hide everything, from his sick hoarder mother to the fact that he’s stuck living in a 1982 Ford LTD station wagon he calls the Blue Whale. Then one day, during mandatory community service, he meets Shelly, a girl with a past, who’s also special enough to unmask Michael’s deepest secrets. Can he manage to be worthy of her love, a guy living in a car, unable to return to his chaotic and fit-to-be-condemned home? Shelly won’t give up, and tries to peel back the layers of garbage and pain to reveal Michael’s immense heart.


REVIEW by John Kurtze

BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA is a story of two young adults dealing with issues of homelessness, building relationships, trust, and blended families.  Laura Moe weaves her storyline around the two teenagers from two different social and economic lifestyles.  The author introduces Michael Flynn providing her readers some details of his backstory such as his secrets of where is living and his lack of funds.  The storyline moves forward, increasing the intrigue of both Michael and Shelly’s connections, as events unfold at the high school.  Moe introduces Michelle Miller (Shelly) who is also performing community service at the high school. Shelly keeps her troubles to herself and is aware the dark cloud of rumors and innuendo creating a mystery about her troubles.

Readers see Michael and Shelly developing a friendship regardless of the social and economic differences in their lives.  Both find common ground to build their friendship learning to enjoy each other’s company regardless of the secrets in both their pasts.  When Shelly finds out Michael is living in his car on the school parking lot and Michael hears a rumor about Shelly’s tainted past, they both learn to accept and not judge each other. Throughout the storyline, Moe explores social issues such low income, mental health, and homelessness. Shelly convinces Michael to begin searching for the identity of his father.

Moe helps her readers see issues of a blended family such as a spouse not welcoming a stepchild. The more time Michael and Shelly spend together their relationship grows beyond friendship, and they begin to share secrets of their past.  BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA creates a lifeline of trust for Michael and Shelly as readers finish the story to find out how things turn out.  Laura Moe’s BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA is must read and earns a five-star ranking.

                                                                                                                                                Review by John Kurtze





Laura Moe is a radio host and YA author. Her latest novel, BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA, is listed as NYPL’s 50 Best Books for Teens in 2016. Join her on Mondays for LIVE interviews with YA authors on The Young Adult Cafe. She is possibly the worst bowler on the planet.


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